Thursday, August 7, 2008

Woodward Bay Features Solitude Minutes from the Capital

Obviously, I enjoy the high country and between now and mid-October, you will probably read frequently about my upper elevation adventures , but every now and then, I let my curiosity get the best of me.

Morning stillness in a small inlet off Woodward Bay.

If you look at a map, there are several peninsulas just north of Olympia . For years, I have wondered what is out there and this last weekend I solved at least part of the mystery. First and foremost, I visited Woodward Bay to see first hand some of the South Puget Sound views. In addition, I found a recreation community like no other. Kayaks were everywhere. This bay as well as a number of other public properties provide a hub to launch small water craft for exploration.
Several nature trails wander through stands of cedar and fir adjacent Woodward Bay.

There is also a nature trail that allows a walk through the forest adjacent to the bay itself. There are several views and ultimately, that vast amount of wildlife will occasionally pass by. I saw herons and working osprey among others. I could hear the calls of the harbor seals that were being watched by 4 Evergreen State College students. Their project was documenting the seals’ reactions to disturbance which included passing boats and other water craft.

A prominent sea bird takes a moment in Woodward Bay.

One of the most profound moments of the day was early. I completely forgot where I was as I stood and looked over a fog shrouded bay with the call of harbor seals and seagulls in the distance. I watched a beautiful black and silver Gardner snake slither away and then it hit me. I am 5 miles from Downtown Olympia. It felt more like 40.

To get to Woodward Bay , take the Port of Olympia exit off of I5 and turn left onto Plum Street and go straight for about five miles. The road changes names three times in the process, but that is not your concern. Follow the now East Bay Road through Priest Point City Park and continue on what becomes Boston Harbor Road . Take a right on Woodward Bay Rd. NE and continue past where you take quick left onto Libby and then a quick right back onto Woodward Bay Rd. for the last mile. Be aware of the bridge crossing the small bay because there are parking areas and very different opportunities on both sides.

Mt. Rainier towers over recreational craft in the Nisqually Reach at Tolmie State Park.

I was also able to visit a few other areas in the area I would recommend visiting. Try driving out to little Boston Harbor where you can rent a paddle boat, canoe or kayak and explore Budd Inlet. Just south of that location is Burfoot Park which allows beach access to the Inlet. Finally, I also wandered over to the Nisqually Reach and visited Tolmie State Park which also featured beach access.
There was no problem finding some great public spaces along the South Puget Sound beaches, forests and neighboring wetlands just a few miles outside of Washington ’s Capital City .

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